Cider Review: Woodchuck 802 Lil’ Dry
As a craft cider enthusiast, I have some preconceived notions about cider from the big, national brands. Primarily that they are sweet (more alco-pop than cider), have no body, and may be made from concentrate with added colors or flavors. This often leads to me ignoring their products entirely, or wearing the “big-brand-blinders” as I like to call it. However, when the big brands listen to consumer demand for higher quality, real cider and release a product to answer to that demand, we would be remiss to ignore it.
Case in point: Woodchuck 802 Collection: Lil’ Dry – a semi-dry cider made from 100% Vermont apples with no added sugar. Woodchuck has surprised me a few times in the past with ciders from their “Out on a Limb” series and seasonal offerings, but I generally look to smaller producers. If given the opportunity to try something new though, I wouldn’t pass it up…
(Full disclosure: Woodchuck reached out to me to ask if I would be interested in trying Lil’ Dry, the first cider in their new 802 collection. I said yes.)
Appearance: Yellow straw and completely clear. Medium carbonation initially, quickly dissipating to light carbonation with small, but not tiny bubbles.
Aroma: Loads of ripe apple aroma greets the nose. Floral background notes, but the apples are front and center.
Flavor: Once again the apples are up front, but not too in-your face. Fresh and juicy with mellow acidity that balances with fresh apple, light natural sweetness and hints of earth/trees.
Finish: The finish is indeed semi-dry. The cider has some body and viscosity to it, even with a relatively low ABV at 5.1% and no tannins.
Overall (and honest opinion, unbiased by Woodchuck’s generosity in sending us a sample): This is not your college roommate’s Woodchuck – it’s an extremely drinkable cider. Real apple flavor, not too sweet, and nicely balanced all around. I’m not sure what apples were used in the blend, but I’m assuming they were mostly dessert/culinary/dual-purpose apples. With that said, this is a good, sessionable modern cider.
Should it be compared to the finest offerings from small, craft producers? No, and I don’t think that’s what Woodchuck wants. But it is going to bring real cider to many who don’t yet know where to find orchard-based, real cider. And that is a very good thing. I feel like I can taste a little bit of Vermont in every sip, which I’m pretty sure that is the goal for the 802 Collection.
For now, Lil’ Dry is available in 4-packs of 16oz cans across Vermont with some availability in Maine and New Hampshire. If you’re in those areas, give it a taste and let Woodchuck know what you think of it – and encourage them to continue on this path of cider made from 100% apples.